In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, seven north Alabama writers penned short stories inspired by the Saturn V rocket.

Ranging from historical fiction to science fiction to romance, the tales in “Touch the Sky: Stories Inspired by the Saturn V” explore relationships, the influence of rockets and the impact of technology on new explorations.

“(These stories) reflect that we live in a world, right here, right now, where the Saturn V rocket is the centerpiece of its own museum: tangible evidence that sometimes when we dream great things, our dreams might just become real. We live in a world where the dream-made-real of those spaceflight pioneers is part of our scenery,” Athens author Jennifer Busick wrote in the introduction.

Busick and Madison author Catherine Jaime partnered to coordinate and edit “Touch the Sky.” Both women also contributed stories to the anthology along with Stephanie Barr, Alan Boone, Maria Jaime, H.M. Jaime and Sandra Clark Boone.

“For only having seven stories, we have a real nice range. Several have the Space and Rocket Center as a big part of them and some focus on the Saturn V,” Catherine Jaime said. “It was like going to a potluck and everyone brought a different a dish, but it all went together.”

During 3rd Friday in downtown Decatur, Busick will autograph and sell copies of “Touch the Sky” at Second Read Books. The event will begin on Friday at 5 p.m.

Q-and-A with Busick and Jaime

How did the idea for “Touch the Sky” come about?

Busick: After helping edit another anthology earlier in the year, I came to our writer’s group meeting and said, "I almost feel like I should do my own anthology." Cathy, who takes me serious when I say things like that said, “OK, what’s it about?”

Jaime: Before the night was over, we had agreed on the topic of rockets because of the anniversary coming up.

How did you decide how to incorporate the rocket?

Busick: For me, it’s a process. I had the idea of the rocket and that became my setting, the Space and Rocket Center. I think noodle with it and daydream about it. Who are the characters in the setting and what are they doing there? How can I bring something new to it? And to bring something new to the rocket center is difficult. That’s when I thought about a romance.

Jaime: I try to find any excuse to write about Leonardo da Vinci and, yes, I did find a way to connect him with rockets. He dreamed of airplanes, helicopters and parachutes and studied astronomy so it’s not a huge stretch to connect him to rockets. On the other side, I had seen “Hidden Figures” and wanted to somehow connect the story to one of those women. It was easy to connect them to space, but to have a connection to the Saturn V was more difficult. Luckily, I found out that Katherine Johnson had done a lot of mathematics for the rendezvous for Apollo 11. The idea of having the story go back and forth between Leonardo and Katherine was just a lot of fun. or 256-340-2441. Twitter @DecaturLiving.
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